I’m very excited to provide the very first hands-on review of the two new Christopher Ward C8 models. Because of this, my time with them has been rather limited (less than a week) so these reviews are more succinct than my other in-depth reviews.
After re-releasing the C5 and C65 ranges with the new logo on, the C8 family is the next to get attention. But these aren’t just existing models with the new logo; these are completely new watches that are extremely impressive in their own right and continue to elevate CW as a luxury manufacturer without the price tag. Personally, I love the C8 aviation range and I’m happy that it’s been given some love as it’s been a while…
The latest rendition of Christopher Ward’s fairly groundbreaking in-house SH21 movement is found in the brand new C8 Power Reserve. The name kind of gives away the extra feature – that of a power reserve indicator, located at 9.
This watch will cost you £1550, which of course isn’t cheap. But, despite this – what you get is still excellent value for money. Think about the value of an in-house movement. This is also COSC certified (£100 in itself). If this was any other watch manufacturer, the cost would be a lot more.
Let’s take a closer look to get to know the C8 Power Reserve Chronometer a bit better.
- Case dimensions: 44mm diameter x 11mm height x 53.2mm lug to lug
- Lug width: 22mm
- Weight: 81g
- Movement: In-house SH21
- Water resistance: 50m / 5ATM
- Price: £1550
The case is only available with DLC (diamond-like carbon) coating, no stainless steel option available here. It’s the base C8 shape, which is a fairly standard barrel shape – similar to the usual “big pilot” type watch case.
The case has a large push-pull onion crown located at 9. This has great grip, which is very important for winding. Not that you’ll need to wind the watch as much as a normal timepiece, thanks to the long lasting 5 day power reserve.
The DLC coating provides a matte black finish, which is very well machined and finished. It’s also reassuringly hard wearing, so is likely to be able to take a knock or two without any show.
Sitting atop the case is a flat sapphire crystal, with really good anti-reflective coating on the underside.
The screw-in caseback is primarily an exhibition window to show off the large SH21 movement. There are some small, lightly engraved details surrounding the sapphire crystal.
The case is solid, as you’d expect from a watch costing £1500.
The dial is vintage inspired; with some very smart modern twists.
With both of these new C8’s, the new CW logo looks perfectly in place: something that has caused quite a talking point since being introduced is now starting to look really at home. The logo here is centre aligned – the first appearance of this type. Personally I prefer this to the left aligned alternative.
I really like the altimeter inspired date, however in practice it’s not quite as legible as one would hope: you can only see the date if you’re looking pretty much straight on. That’s not to say it’s still awesome; the laser-cut numerals on the custom date wheel are very accurate considering the size and is a lovely extra level of intricacy. Today’s date is shown in the vintage brown colour thanks to a bar behind the wheel.
The vintage brown colouring is throughout the dial, featuring primarily on the hour markers and hands.
The lume is vintage coloured too; thanks to the SuperLuminova “Old Radium”. It’s strong, charges really well and lasts an impressively long time. It performs much better than the standard CW lume.
The minute and hour hands are an interesting shape – they’ve been referred to as condom hands. Quite humorous, and also quiet true.
What you don’t realise on initial inspection is that this is in fact a sandwich dial – the hour markers between the 4 corners are on a lower level.
The other hour markers are all applied: numerals at 12 and batons at 3, 6, 9. There’s also an added bonus: the little red triangle at 12 is applied too – a really nice little touch that you may not notice.
Both subdials (the power reserve indicator and small seconds) are at a lower level, bringing in more depth to the dial.
The strap is a beautiful, thick tan brown leather. It is 22mm wide for its entirety and has bare edges to deliver a rustic feel, which is supported by the chunky cream stitching.
I’ve noticed that the strap is rather squeaky and also quite stiff to start with, and was so for the entire week I had the watch. I’m sure it’ll break in nicely eventually.
The tang buckle is DLC coated to match the case, with a left aligned logo engraved into the top bar.
The strap has quick release pins which his always welcome; making removal very easy.
The movement powering the C8 Power Reserve Chronometer is their in-house SH21. It’s COSC certified (regulated the same as Rolex and Omega movements) and has a whopping 5 days power reserve. Think about that for a moment – other manufacturers that provide more than the standard 40 hours power reserve are Mont Blanc, Zenith, Panerai, Blancpain, Grand Seiko… the list goes on; and it is an extremely exclusive list for CW to be in.
The power reserve indicator is positioned at 9, and this is an extra module to work with the base SH21 developed by Johannes Jahnke. The running seconds hand is located at 6, which is actually pre-built into the movement itself, so no new development was required for that.
This SH21 rendition is hand wind only – the automatic winding module has been removed (how cool is that? The moment is like lego!). This isn’t really a problem with 5 days worth of charge with every full wind.
This 120 hour power reserve comes courtesy of the twin barrels with wind turbine engraving on the top. In addition to this detail, the movement has an awesome looking matte black bridge with various details engraved and painted white.
The SH21 is exceptional – both on the inside and the outside.
Any watch housing the SH21 movement is going to be special. That remarkable collection of watches has the genres of dress (C9), diver (C60 600), and now pilot. For me, those three types make the perfect hat trick.
The C8 Power Reserve is an excellent compliment to those other timepieces. Beautifully designed, extremely legible, and as precise as the best of them; this is a perfect alternative to big players such as IWC or Bell & Ross.
The build quality is top notch (as long as the strap breaks in nicely), and with the excellent reputation the SH21 movement is building, the Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer would be a very smart purchase if you’re looking for a luxury pilot / aviation watch.